Yoga for Inflexible People

Judi Rice
Year Released: 2002

Categories: Yoga

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Iím revisiting this DVD after writing a review of it in 2005 (I canít believe Iím still the only one whoís submitted a review of this one) and then letting it sit on my shelf for the past 4 years or so with limited play. I have spent the last few months (on and off) running through every one of the practices on this DVD.

This was one of the first two yoga DVDs I ever bought (the other was JJ Gormleyís Yoga for Every Body, also from Body Wisdom Media) when I was trying to start doing yoga on a regular basis at home after my initial live classes, and I picked it because it looked like good deal: with a few practices as short as 15 min. and others as long as 75 but most in the 30-45 min. range it offered good variety without taking up too much time. Also, I am definitely one of the inflexible people.

Iím reevaluating this DVD now that I have more yoga experience under my belt and a lot more yoga media. At this point in time Iíve been practicing yoga for 8 or so years now, most of that at home, and Iíve probably tried over 100 yoga DVDs, CDs, and MP3s. Iím kind of at a perpetual beginner / intermediate to low intermediate level of yoga (yeah, so I was overly optimistic when I wrote I was an intermediate yogi several years agoÖ); for several reasons I do not practice some of the more intermediate plus poses like wheel and headstand (and also the more advanced arm balances), which isnít an issue here at all since this doesnít even feature bridge and shoulderstand, much less wheel and headstand or scorpion and handstand.

Iíve kept it primarily because Iíve found the Menstruation Series practices helpful in relieving menstrual cramps, and even though this mostly collects dust I have a hard time parting with it for that reason. This was never my favorite DVD, although to be fair a lot of that was my fault for not being patient enough and understanding what itís trying to accomplish. I appreciate what it offers a lot more now. In fact, I donít regret revisiting (and in some cases trying out) the practices at this point in time, but many of the poses are perhaps too basic for me, even when I am in a back to basics mode. Iíve come to appreciate dandasana (seated staff pose) better now Ė perhaps because I can sit upright more easily Ė but still havenít gained a fondness for some of the flowing floor series. I worry, though, that although Iíve worked through all of the practices and now have a better understanding of this DVDís strengths it will once again wind up gathering dust on my shelf between TTOMs.

All of that said, I started working through this during a rotation focusing on fairly strong weights and intense cardio, and this seemed like a good balance since the poses arenít particularly strenuous (note that I didnít say they were easyÖ) for me at this point in time. Iíve been amazed at the flexibility gains Iíve gotten over those few months. I wasnít just doing this yoga DVD, and I was also doing active stretches as part of my warm-ups for other workouts plus foam rolling and stretching after every strength workout, but even still this does seem to have helped, too.

Iíd like to revisit a few things I wrote in my earlier review.
- Level: I still think this one is good for those new to yoga or those looking to revisit the basics, particularly those wishing to supplement an Iyengar- or related live class; this may also be helpful for those who teach, as it provides a lot of options on how to modify the poses for those with some pretty serious flexibility limitations. Although I believe other experienced yogis can also find value in revisiting these basic, modified poses, more will find probably this too ďslowĒ or ďboringĒ or ďbeginner,Ē mostly due to the nature of the practice but also the pose selection itself, which often includes a lot of repetition from practice to practice or even several variations of the same pose within the same practice. Despite the many offered modifications, this can still present a challenge to those with real inflexibility, although if thatís due to a serious issue, such as a back injury, itíd be worth checking with a doctor / physical therapist and/or a live yoga teacher trained in therapeutic yoga. And it may be a challenge for those who find themselves short on patience. Yes, thereís some set-up time, but thereís method in the madness: youíll be doing lots of little adjustments, some very subtle, some not so much, including some manual adjustments. If youíre looking for power yoga or a flowing practice, this definitely is not for you. If youíre looking for something exciting and flashy and fun, this isnít for you, either.
- Props: Not only am I stronger, more flexible, and more knowledgeable about yoga than when I first got this, but Iím also more appreciative of props. I may actually use props more now, even though my flexibility has improved. I cringe at my statement that the clutter bothered me, even if it was true then. Yeah, itís a little bit of extra work to pull out things, but this doesnít require a huge arsenal of props, especially if you have a little more flexibility, and the props really do help.
While you can make do with any chair, to get the most out of the poses your chair should be sturdy, with a tall, flat back that you can reach out and hold while standing straight up. Ideally it would also have nothing connected the legs so that you can stick your leg underneath while seated with it in front of you. I have a regular folding chair, which works all right for most poses but isnít the best.
- Yeah, the old meís comment about the lack of warm-up puzzles the current me, too. The sequencing here is usually intelligent, with Judi easing you into the meat of the practice by starting out with something simple to get you centered. She also tends to work off of a few base poses, namely tadasana (mountain; either lying on the floor or standing) and dandasana (staff). I usually get what sheís doing and see where sheís going (unlike JJ Gormleyís Yoga for Every Body, where the DVD more often seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to pose selection). For example, in the Moving into Forward Bends she starts lying down with some hip and hamstring openers, then moves to the chair and standing before doing seated forward bends on the floor, which makes a lot of sense since seated forward bends can be very difficult if you have trouble sitting upright due to tight muscles. That said, there are a few practices where things feel more jumbled or poses seem to be out of order, like Moving into Backbends I where the down dog Ė up dog sequence is right before savasana rather than after the initial run through of up dog and the standing flow series (i.e. modified sun salutations B), perhaps a disc error.
- Production, etc.: No, the music and set havenít become any more exciting with time, the errors in listed props needed for each pose havenít corrected themselves, and the warning hasnít removed itself from before each and every practice. The voiceover and moves are still off in a few places, although Iím not quite as bothered by them now.
- Style / Type / School of Yoga: The little info I can find on Judi says sheís a long time Iyengar teacher. Iím definitely not familiar enough with the Iyengar style to say how true this is to that school and its traditions and all of that, but it seems to me to have been heavily inspired at the very least. Still, itís worth noting BWMís Mary Pappas-Sodonasí Yoga Complete for Weight Loss is at the top of lists of the few true Iyengar practice videos available while this one doesnít seem to make the short list, for whatever reason.

I should add that VF member Colleen very helpfully typed out all exercises on this DVD, including listing out which poses are in which premix and which props each pose requires, on this thread:

Also, Judi mostly mirror cues (that is, cues for the viewerís right and left), although sometimes she cues for her modelís left and right instead. And I still think she provides some of the better instruction out there for coming out of poses, including some ways to release the pose.



General workout breakdown: This DVD offers a variety of general and focused yoga routines for the serious yoga student who may be flexibility-impaired. The yoga practiced here is based on the Iyengar method, which focuses on precise movement and alignment, often using props to help move deeper into poses. This is deceptively challenging brand of yoga that is held for quite some time (i.e. itís s l o w paced) and is by no means fast-moving, sweaty power yoga.
The wide variety of programs allows you to choose your practice based on how you feel each day. There are a total of 37 programs, which range from 15 to 75 minutes long. They are divided into the following categories: 8 general, 7 hips & lower back, 5 legs, 5 shoulders, 6 energizing, and 6 quieting. The shorter programs are generally easier than longer ones, with the ďbasicsĒ programs aimed at beginners. The programs are actually made up of pre-programmed exercises routines, so there is a little pause between segments while the DVD starts the next chapter, which begins with the poseís name and mentions the props youíll needóthe latter feature is not always correct.

Level: Iíd recommend this to beginner to intermediate yogi(ni)s. While prior yoga experience is helpful, a beginner (or someone restarting a yoga program) will probably find the routines doable. Anyone past the intermediate stage will most likely find the poses too basic and/or too modified. I have well over two years of yoga experience but am working on improving my strength and especially my flexibility. I have recently begun practicing at an intermediate level. Iím finding the shorter routines too easy, but a number of the longer routines are still useful to me.

Class: one woman (Tara Cary, a yoga teacher) only

Music / Set / Production Notes: The instrumental music is soft. The minimal interior set has lightly painted walls and floor and nothing else. The picture and sound quality are good but the production is definitely no frills. There are the pauses between poses, and sometimes thereís a volume or tone change as well. In addition, the voice over is not always in synch with visuals (e.g. youíll come out of a pose as instructed and find Taraís still in it).

Equipment Needed: sticky mat (or equivalent). You will also want a chair, yoga strap (or use a tie, belt, or towel), 2 yoga blocks, 2 folded blankets, and an additional rolled up mat (or towel) for some segments. Access to a clear wall is needed for other segments.

Comments: There isnít usually a ďwarm upĒ or breathing / centering / focusing section before each routine, so add one if you need it.
You donít need much space; you should be able to move around on your mat freely.

DVD Notes: I believe this is only available on DVD. The safety precautions appear at the beginning of every routine, but you can skip them.

Conclusion: I donít usually do this DVD. The pace is too slow for my taste, the props create too much clutter for my neat freak ways (especially since you canít always tell what youíll need next, so you either have to have everything out or jump up and grab it), and the routines are hard to judge in difficulty until one has done them all the way through. So why do I keep it? It has a fabulous menstruation series (one 15 minute series and an expanded 30 minute series) which is perfect for cramps during that time of the month. I swear my cramps are reduced dramatically by practicing this sequence. Besides, I personally only feel like flopping on the floor for that day or two anyway.
Of the three Body Wisdom Media yoga series Iíve owned (Yoga (Complete) for Every Body and Power Yoga for Every Body), this is least well produced, particularly in the match up between the instructions spoken and the movements performed. I know many people prefer Y4IP, but I personally prefer the Y(C)4EB because the pace suits me a little better.

Instructor Comments:
Judi instructs via voice over. She is very focused on technique in general, offering a lot of pointers for each pose. I particularly like her tips on how to come out of poses safely. She has a soft southern accent.